Bangalow Weir Repairs to Finally Go Ahead

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Artist's impression of the remodelled Bangalow Weir.

Artist’s impression of the remodelled Bangalow Weir.

Since January 2012, the town of Bangalow has been steadfastly standing by its failing weir.

That community spirit has finally paid off, with the announcement by Byron Shire Council this week that the remediation works are finally set to start thanks to $100,000 funding support from the state government’s NSW Environmental Trust

Byron Shire Council will also provide an additional $50,000 towards the works.

It’s a far cry from a community meeting held back on January 20, 2012, when council staff were booed after they told the audience their weir would be demolished because it would cost $1 million to fix.

A fishway alone was said to be going to cost $500,000.

At that time local structural engineer Tony Baggio demonstrated a straightforward plan to repair the existing weir using rock-filled wire baskets, which he said would ‘cost less than $50,000’.

Mr Baggio’s plan was subsequently rejected by council but the Bangalow Parklands Group was formed to support the repair of the weir.

In March 2013, council voted down a staff recommendation to demolish the weir, following the delivery of yet another report, this time by WBM, which put the cost of a minimal fix at around $290,000.

By mid last year there was finally a plan everyone could sign up to. Then it was only a question of money.

The works are estimated to start within the next three months, once the contracts have been awarded for the civil and landscaping works.

Christobel Munsen from the Bangalow Parkland Group has excitedly welcomed the announcement.

‘The community of Bangalow greatly values its existing open space and Parklands,’ she said.

‘So our team is absolutely delighted that the last five years of nagging, cajoling, badgering, and generally working hard behind the scenes to find a way to fix the historic disintegrating weir wall, have had this excellent result, and that the end is in sight.

‘Along the way, a genuine collaborative spirit of cooperation with Council has developed, which we have greatly appreciated.

‘There will be great celebrations in Bangalow when this work is completed, and once again, our community can enjoy the weir facility in its new, updated and stabilised form,’ she said.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said concept drawing and engineering plans of the remediation works was completed last year.

‘In working with the community the design kept key elements of the Bangalow Weir such as old swimming platform, and will use the rocks to reinforce the side walls and create rock pools that support fish habitat and the local platypus population.

‘The Bangalow Weir has wonderful heritage, social and environmental values and the local community is understandably very connected and passionate about the site.

‘It’s long been a focal point for Bangalow locals. It’s a place that many have swum, picnicked or even married.

‘The challenge has been how we maintain the cultural and environmental needs of a failing piece of infrastructure to ensure its longevity for many more years for the community to enjoy.

‘The new design encourages locals and visitors to be part of the past and connect with the natural environment,’ he said.

Ironically, the National Party last week announced $250,000 in federal funding towards the weir should it be returned to office. Despite the five-year wait, that money may now come too late, if at all.

Source article:

Echonet Daily

June 9, 2016 | by Chris Dobney

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